Category Archives: Love, God

Posts by Amy

Day Two

**Writer’s Note**
Please be sure to read Made for More, a short introduction into the two-part series written for the Sigma Phi Lamba Retreat in October 2019.

Read Day One here…

The second day of the retreat began early on a Saturday morning, after little sleep and I’m sure much contemplation of what God had spoken the night before.  I could tell the girls were tired but God still had more to share.  

I said, “Today’s message is going to require some follow-up. I saved some of the hardest things you needed to hear for this moment. I hope that one [or all] of them will be the wake-up call you need. Because the message I have for you may be a little harder to take, it will mean you have to let go and really trust Him.”

But watch what I can do.

<< God >>

I had told the girls the day before that God had given me some hammock time, where He shared a lot of the words written for this retreat. I wanted very much to memorize all that He had given me but my flesh cannot do justice to the words that God put on my paper that day.

When you know Who I am, who you are in Me and start being obedient to My calling, do you think that means I will suddenly start answering your prayers the way you want Me to? That things will start getting easier? That you will have less of a desire to do things you own way? NO! In fact, things may even get harder. When you obey Me in the small things, I can start to trust you with the bigger things. You need to act accordingly, like the child of a loving, generous and trustworthy Father. You need to trust Me. You actions, your words, your demeanor and how you carry yourself should show that you are a child of Mine. Your everything needs to reflect Me, not just for you, but for everyone who needs to see Me in you!

When you are done with college, you will likely begin applying for jobs that match your education. You’ll submit a resume along with your application, both of which will determine whether or not you get that interview. Have you ever thought about your spiritual resume? You are building it each day by how much you get into the Word, how often you pray, your relationship with Him, what you’ve learned and experienced. But what will stand out the most is how you have applied what you have learned.

Has God ever called you into a position where you couldn’t even justify being chosen if you hand-crafted the resume of your wildest dreams? He just brought you somewhere, He called you to be someone, to serve in a position you will never be able to fill based on your current resume. But think about what you will have to add to your resume afterwards!

What words would you want to be at the top of your list of qualifications?

She reads her Bible diligently.
She is there for all her friends.
She speaks up for the silent.
She worships freely and regularly.
She devotes her life to developing a relationship with Christ, with her peers, with strangers.
She shares the love of Christ.
She knows where she belongs.
She travels great distances to serve.
She serves in her backyard.
She feels His presence often.
She hears His voice frequently.

How about one word?  Could you sum up your qualifications/experience in one words and be satisfied?  What if I told you that God’s love language is obedience?  Would you want that added to your resume?

We can be right where He wants us to be but doing the wrong thing.  God isn’t looking for a long resume before He’ll let us into Heaven.  He’s more concerned about our character than He is our accomplishments.  He’s more concerned with our character than He even is concerned with our comfort.  In fact, He’d much prefer we find our comfort in Him rather than a person, place, thing or career!

You each have a special part to play in the body of Christ and once you realize that, you will be able to bring it out of others that much more!

In Galatians 1, Paul was called by God and he said:

“I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being.”

Notice he didn’t look around or check with anyone else.

He did what God asked.

God has called me for a specific purpose from birth and all this time I’ve been on a journey. The times I strayed from my path or stumbled were when I took my eyes off of Him and started to look around at others, at things, at my situation.

When I was on a hike at Castlewood State Park, one of my favorite places to visit, I took a pretty hard fall that I still feel many weeks later. It was dry so the rocky dirt was a bit slippery as I walked on the path. It was on the straight stretch, the one after two big inclines that I began to lose my balance after catching a few rocks at just the right angle. It was as if everything was going in slow motion. Every time I tried to catch myself from falling, I started slipping even more. By the time I actually made it to the ground, I had a scraped hand, knees, a sore ankle and bruised pride.

In that fall, however, God taught me two important lessons that I shared with the girls at the retreat, some things that I needed a reminder of as well.

Lesson #1 Reach out to God first.

When I went on the hike, I had my backpack with some writing supplies along with me. I picked myself up after the fall and walked to a nearby bench to write about what had just happened. Surely God would give me something from that moment, right? When I opened my notebook, the scripture at the bottom of the page was exactly what I needed to read:

But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Proverbs 18:24b

I needed to be reminded of that scripture because, before I prayed, I reached out to a friend for prayer after I fell. I was embarrassed, hurt and just wanted to keep going the remaining 2 miles. Instead of going to God first, I contacted a friend for prayer.

One of the struggles I have had in my life is turning to people first before going to God. I continue to wrestle with this in certain situations, seeking comfort from my husband, a trusted friend or family member before first reaching out to God. People will inevitably fail us, regardless of how much they love and care for us because flesh is flesh. But God carries an infinite amount of everything we need.

When we resolve to turn to Him first we realize how He always gives us just what we need, what we sometimes look elsewhere for.

Lesson #2 Never take your eyes off your path.

After I took some time to write and pray, I got back on the trail to continue on. As I was walking, I began replaying the experience over and over in my mind. It was then that I realized that, as I was falling, I began looking around at who was in front of and behind me to see if they were watching my stumbling. Gauging by their reactions, it had to look pretty bad.

But here’s the thing…

It wasn’t until I looked away from the path in front of me to see what other’s reactions would be that I actually fell. Isn’t that so true with us in life as well? We take our eyes off of our path to see another’s and that is where the real struggle begins. It shouldn’t matter what they think or what their path looks like.

Our stumbling is often due to our eyes being focused on the wrong thing. God can’t bless a path [for us] that wasn’t meant for us.

Through this fall, I was able to see a very visual example of something that I needed to change. We always need to go to God first. HOWEVER — He does give us trusted people to which we can be our true selves, people who know our heart, who already know our past and don’t have to earn the rights to it. He doesn’t want us to be someone we’re not with them or entice them to walk away from Him but rather to build each other up.

“So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.”

Romans 4:13

Just as taking our eyes off of our path can cause us to stumble, not holding our friends accountable and helping them to rise to be who God has called them to be can also lead to their stumbling. So this isn’t just about us, it’s about the community of believers [and even non-believers] that God has brought into our lives.

I found a quote that I think perfectly describes an ideal friendship and even shared it with a couple close friends. These are friends who know me, believe in me, and who I trust to call me out when I need it.

“The person that challenges you and holds you accountable loves you more than the person who watches you stay the same and settle for mediocrity.”

As God puts you in a community with one another, I encourage you to:

Hold each other accountable.
Build each other up.
Allow each other the freedom to be real.
Show grace because God knows it’s been shown to you!

In Closing

At the end of the message, I challenged each of the girls to start filling in their spiritual resume and I’m going to challenge you to do the same. The goal is not to promote yourself, because God already knows, but it is so that you may know where you are in your relationship with Him. The goal is to continue to fill it out as you grow. You may know some of the answers today while others will require some thought. If you aren’t sure how to answer them, maybe that is a sign that this is an area you need a little work on. Invite God into the lead position of your life and ask Him to speak to the facets of your life that He feels you need growth.

You may want to write these down…

  • Know your weaknesses but don’t let them define you.
  • God can take your mess and turn it into your ministry, your weakness into your weapon.
  • Your choices in life directly reflect what you believe about yourself; about who you are and Whose you are!

I don’t need to know all the answers about who He is calling me to be right now. He’s just trying to build me — do a work in me — live in me.

My job is simple. He calls and I answer.

He will give me what I need when I do. In the meantime, my responsibility is to get into His Word, to be an example and tell people Jesus is Lord and He will take care of the rest.

When you start filling out your spiritual resume, you may wonder how to not get tired of doing the right thing. Because let’s face it, it’s hard to follow Christ’s example. It is so much easier to be who we used to be, to fall into sin, to let our flesh lead. But there are so many rewards to following Jesus, not to mention the JOY we receive when we do!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

A few final thoughts…

  • Be careful who you let pour/speak into you.
  • Soak Him in (watch > listen > do).
  • Rest, exercise, eat healthy (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
  • Study His Word & memorize scripture.
  • Speak out loud against the lies of the enemy.
  • Speak positively of yourself and to yourself.
  • Say only what you would want to hear someone say to you.

Day One

**Writer’s Note**
Please be sure to read Made for More, a short introduction into the two-part series written for the Sigma Phi Lamba Retreat in October 2019.

Introduction
Sometimes I wonder, how did I get here? To say that God has worked a lot in me over the past 20 years would be an understatement.  Without sharing my entire story, I can say that there are a few things that have a tendency to still haunt me today if I’m not careful:

  • Caring too much about what people think
  • Looking for happiness in the wrong places
  • Not knowing my worth

Preparation
God has been working in me for years to prepare for this time, I just didn’t know it until recently. 

3 years ago…God told me to quit my job. So in my practice of being obedient, I did. I thought it was to start writing the book He had put on my heart. Nope. Not yet He says.
2 years ago…I shared my testimony in front of about 30-40 high school students at our church.
1 year ago…I shared part of my story and a message in front of 100+ women at a ladies breakfast, also at our church.
6 months ago…I shared a message with 50+ elderly in the poorest community in El Salvador, with my pastor as my translator. 
1 month ago…We were on a mission trip in Brazil when our team was told that two people needed to share a message at the mission base.  I didn’t hesitate to raise my hand and share a message that God had been preparing in me for that very evening, translated in Portuguese to the missionaries and Satare villagers who were present for the service.

I tell you all of these things, not to be boastful, but so say that they were all truly a calling from God. In my past, speaking in front of people used to be my biggest fear, trembling at the knees, making me want to throw up kind of fear. But when it’s a calling from God, He takes the fear away – when we walk with Him and allow the Holy Spirit to speak through us. I will be honest though and say, that I have never been more concerned with what to say until preparing for the message I shared with these young ladies.

When a good friend reminded me that this group of ladies was much like speaking to my daughter, I knew that I needed to step up my game. I was not speaking to someone who was like me at that age. I was speaking to ladies who are much like me now. Point taken God. Now let’s keep going…

My confession
When my friend reached out to ask me if I would be interested in speaking at her daughter’s Christian sorority retreat, my response was less than confident. I just happened to be in El Salvador at the time working with, Janis, a missionary to El Salvador, who has become a good friend. What she said to me that day in a stern, motherly voice, was that I should never have responded the way that I did [about myself]. When God calls me into a position, it’s because He feels I am the person for the job. Her words were probably much more eloquent but when they were said, they were meant for my ears at that specific moment. I needed to be confident that I was the person for the job and I was created for a time such as this [Esther 4:14].

What now?
I wanted to share this profound message but every time I tried to sit down and work on it, my mind went all over the place. This was partially because I wasn’t focused but also because God was still working.  I realized at the beginning of the week, however, that God just wanted me to share the journey He has had me on the last few years, not my testimony. 

He will work on us for a lifetime to prepare us for eternity with Him.  But when He wants us to fulfill a calling, however big or small, He will equip us after we trust Him and start following Him.  We take a step and He gives us what we need.  Then we take another…and another. 

When I left the job I had had for seven years, a friend said to me something that I will never forget:

God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called

That has stuck with me ever since – realizing several years later that this was actually a paraphrased version of Philippians 2:13

“for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” 

I had a hard time coming up with a message for these beautiful ladies because I failed to realize my vulnerability, my struggles were exactly what He wanted me to share. I can tell you who I am in the flesh, even sharing my weaknesses along with strengths and abilities.  But what I struggle with is carrying the confidence that I am worthy, called and equipped. 

These struggles can not only hold me back from fulfilling His calling on my life, but they can hinder others from hearing something significant in the stories He wants to share through my life. 

When we don’t know our worth, it will bleed into other areas of our lives.  It wasn’t until I was very sick earlier this year that I realized a deeply rooted emotion that was hindering me as a wife.  It was the belief that because of my past, I didn’t deserve such an amazing husband. 

This belief allowed the enemy to plant seeds in my head about things that didn’t exist. 

I couldn’t be the wife He called me to be or find the joy in my marriage until I realized that I am worthy of everything that I have, everything that God has called me to, including spending time with these young ladies. 

I was sitting in my hammock the other day, thinking to myself, maybe I just need to write for awhile.  God made me a writer, not a speaker, or so I thoughtBeing able to spend time in an area I feel gifted helps build my confidence in areas I may be weak.  Here’s what I wrote that day:

We waste so much time trying to make it look like we have it all together that we can’t possibly put anything together. I have been praying for what God wants met to share, yet everything I come up with has already been said except my story, my struggles, my fight in grabbing hold of the identity I know I should already be clinging to.

They say people can argue with “truth” but they can’t argue with your story, your testimony of how God changed your life. But what about the story where victory is followed by defeat, then it seems as if the work begins again, that we have to start from scratch after making so much progress. It’s a never-ending cycle called life, where we have to choose our attitude, keep our enemies closer than we’d like, fight battles, wear armor, carry swords, stand strong and whisper under our breath when we’re wrestling with something we can’t handle or bear to share.

At some point, it became a bad idea to share our feelings, to have a bad day, to actually be the flesh that we are here on earth. We set expectations so high for ourselves but yet we give grace to others because we know they’re unrealistic. We forget our perfection isn’t found in anything earthly yet we feel as if we’ve failed when we can’t reach it.

Our lows begin to get lower, our attacks less frequent, our momentum dull and eventually, non-existent. We don’t give up on life but we resign ourselves to the idea that we’ll have anything close to what she has, what we thought we would have. Our days aren’t anything to speak of, they’re less than ordinary, occasionally ordinary, but infrequently extraordinary.

Then something happens. A light peeks through the trees and shows us a little color that we hadn’t seen before. A reflection in the mirror catches our eye and it doesn’t make us turn as quickly as it had in the past. The days seem to get a little longer, we notice, because we are able to get a little more accomplished. God is a little closer in this time. But where has He been? Why is He showing up in these moments when I needed Him in all the others?

The reality is, we haven’t been pursuing Him. We expect His rescue, His answers, but when His response isn’t what we expect, we turn elsewhere, to people, things, places where we can feel better instead of recognizing all those are temporary fixes for momentary situations. There is a cure that is permanent and it makes even the toughest days easier to walk through.

My message on identity can’t start with knowing who you are or even knowing who you are in Him if you aren’t truly ready to give it to Him — all of it. I want you to close your eyes and really listen to the words of this song. I read it to the ladies who were there that day after they had heard it in worship. Listen to the personal touch of these lyrics.

Dancing On The Waves | We The Kingdom

The Lord, your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you but will rejoice over you with singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

I believe this is the song He would sing to you!

We are on a journey with God. It’s inevitable that at times we will be closer to Him than others. Some days we’ll wish He would rescue us, then others, we’ll understand why He didn’t. Each day we have an opportunity to turn to Him with a new attitude and a fresh perspective. There’s only one thing he can’t do and that is to walk the journey for us. He will bring people to us to help us, to guide us, to instruct us, but He never wants us to take our eyes off Him because, when we do, we may stumble or even worse, we may begin to walk down a path that wasn’t meant for us.

I could list dozens of scriptures of who God says you are, but I want to know…

who do you think He says you are?

Are you looking at Him? Are you looking at others? Are you looking at your situation? Where are you searching for your identity? Are you trying to find it in everything other than Him? Your spouse? Your job? School? Your friends? Your church? Your service? Yourself?

Instead of telling you all the scriptures that will help you to know who you are in Him, I want to tell you some things He told me to share with you…things He told me I need to remember too:

You are made in His image.
You are because He is.
You were created on purpose for a purpose.
You are saved. You will be redeemed. You will be restored.
You are worth it.

I sent a survey to out prior to the retreat for the ladies to fill out.  It gave me a chance to really see where the group as a whole was.  I shared with them some of the things the enemy is saying to their friends:

  • I am failing.
  • I’m too fat, I’m not doing enough (lazy).
  • I’m unworthy, unlovable, ugly and boring.
  • You’re not worth it.
  • I annoy everyone around me.
  • I’m not getting enough done. There’s not enough time to do it all.
  • That I’m not worthy of Christ’s love because of the temptations I’ve fallen into & sins I’ve committed.
  • That I am behind in life. That I am not doing enough, not pretty enough, not skinny enough.

About half of these bright young women feel like they have a solid idea of who they are, which is pretty significant considering many adults still don’t know what they want to be when they grow up! I found it interesting, however, that all of them know Whose they are and have a clear idea as to why it is important to know that, yet struggle with the same things as those who have yet to be introduced to the message of Jesus Christ.  I don’t say this to be condemning, I say this because when I was struggling in El Salvador, something I read in my morning devotion jumped out at me. 

The scripture referenced was John 17:23 where Jesus prayed that you will know with confidence that your Heavenly Father loves you in the same way [he has] loved me. I felt convicted when the next words said, “So treat God as your Father and start acting like His child and enjoying the benefits of family membership.” 

I needed to believe that God’s promises were for me and act like the child of a loving, trustworthy, generous Father. 

And so do you…

When we put our faith in God, it doesn’t mean that our old ways of thinking will disappear without a trace.  It will require work, hard work at times, to stay focused.  It will require committing scriptures to memory that we can use in certain situations. 

We must believe 2 Corinthians 5:17 which says,

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! But we also must put forth the work to show evidence of this in our lives.

Knowing our identity is a key to being led by the Holy Spirit.  Thinking about who you are in Him with His Spirit in you will help you to have faith that, no matter what, you will always have what you need to handle anything (from Freedom Group, Church of the Highlands).  When we allow the Holy Spirit to be in control we will see that we already have the Fruit of the Spirit inside of us.  Attributes that sometimes seem so hard to grasp all together:

love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

One of the things I have done to help me on my journey was join a group outside of my church.  In this study through Church of the Highlands, I read this: “The moment we are saved, we are made alive in Christ, forever redeemed and made righteous before the Father, along with the gift of Eternal life, we receive the Holy Spirit and immediately have the ability to be in relationship with God.”

When we receive the Holy Spirit, there becomes a clear difference between relationship and responsibility.  We begin to want to learn His Word, follow the Holy Spirit’s prompting and be obedient BECAUSE we are in relationship with Him.  It means the difference between devotion and duty.

We must believe that, when we ask Jesus into our heart, that God will provide a piece of Him [the Holy Spirit] to remind us that He is always there. He will use the Holy Spirit to speak to us, through us and allow us to step into the calling He has for us. We mustn’t forget that, along the way, He will prune branches. Much like a tree, we need those branches pruned, sometimes removed altogether, because they are hindering us from growing. Sometimes those branches are relationships with people keeping us from becoming who God has called us to be.

Whatever God is saying to you, I encourage you to write it down. While you’re at it, write down some positive things about yourself and scriptures that will help you to stand in the identity of not who you are, but Whose you are. With God as your Father, you have all that it takes to walk confidently in the right direction. You just have to lean into Him. Ask Him to search your heart, your mind, your life for any branches that need pruning. Don’t be surprised if things begin to change [for the better] when you do!

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

John 15:1-17

Read Day Two here…

Made for More

Awhile back, a friend had asked if I would speak at her daughter’s Christian Sorority Retreat. Immediately I asked if she was sure she had texted the right person. I mean, I feel like I’m a good writer, but speaker? And to young women who surely need to have someone say something that will be pivotal to their walk. How could I be that person for them, to speak on “identity” when I feel like I’m still working on being confident in my own?

That’s where I made my first mistake. God called, I questioned, He had to show me a few things, most importantly, that I was made for more than the words I had spoken in response to her request. Fast forward to today, two days post-retreat, and I am happy to say that my lesson was learned — and I did it! Not only was I able to share one message but two with an eager audience of 15 beautiful young women and that very friend who I had reached out to me.

It’s hard to recap exactly what I said those two days because I know there are times that the Holy Spirit works through us to say things that only He can say in the moment. However, I did write down the message I believe God had put on my heart to study in order to speak what He wanted me to share. It’s not easy to be vulnerable but I know that’s what God was calling me to do during my time with these young women and I know it’s also how He wants me to be now, as I share these words with you.

Day 1
Friday evening, October 18, 2019

Day 2
Saturday morning, October 19, 2019

When He Is Speaking…

It was Day 18 in my prayer journal. As I always do, I started writing, just as if I were talking to Him in person. We all pray differently. My prayers most often end up in a conversation, sometimes on paper and other times on the elliptical, when I’m feeling a little energized. This morning was one of those that started on paper and ended with a tearful workout session.

Let me explain.

At 5:52am, I received a text from a friend that was simply “Good morning” followed by this scripture:

“You will show me the way of life,
granting me the joy of Your presence
and the pleasures of living with You forever.”

Psalm 16:11 (NLT)

David wrote Psalm 16. The lead in to the chapter [in my Bible] basically said that David was doing exactly what I was doing when I received the text.

“A Poem of David: [probably] intended to record memorable thoughts.”

Next I read one of my morning devotions titled, Worshiping With Questions. Something that stood out in the reading was,

“Worship needs to not stop when we have questions. God of heaven welcomes us to bring our worry-filled questions to Him.”

Worshiping With Questions | Our Daily Bread

I couldn’t shake the feeling of His presence, unable to focus on my morning rituals, listening to worship music with words that just stopping me in my tracks. “Give me a heart like David, Lord be my defense so I can face my giants with CONFIDENCE.” Listen for yourself…

I continued to read the devotional and picked up on something else the writer said,

“Not everyone understands where to turn for genuine help. David shows us what it looks like to find hope where there seems to be none.”

Worshiping With Questions | Our Daily Bread

I knew God was speaking as everything continued to revolve around David.

The more I learn about David, the more I gravitate to learning about him. I want to build in myself some of the very strengths that got him through so much in his life. Even when he experienced setbacks and made poor choices, David’s heart was still for God — his trust in God is where he found his confidence. He worshiped the Lord, even if sometimes his worship was through worry.

Look at what God had to say about David in Acts:

“God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’”

Acts 13:22 NIV

Oh how I long to be someone who does everything God wants me to do!

David didn’t have to guess what he should do when He was in communication with God. He put his confidence in God, so he had nothing to fear when following God’s direction. When we look at it that way, it’s hard to understand why we become so fearful in situations that we can’t understand. We have to let go of control and let God take the reigns. We can learn to find JOY by simply worshiping Him through the struggles just as we do the triumphs.

The theme wasn’t just David, it was confidence and JOY. I have been thinking about joy for some time now. In this busy season of life, as we move into a brand new season, it will be difficult. However, I know we’ll experience so many wonderful things. All I want in the day-to-day busyness is to find JOY.


“I will bless the Lord, Who has given me counsel; yes, my heart instructs me in the night seasons. I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad and my glory [my inner self] rejoices; my body too shall rest and confidently dwell in safety.”

Psalm 16:7-9

David is saying [here] how thankful he is that God has directed him — he’s finding JOY because of God’s direction. If I really think about it, I find the most JOY when I’m following God. So why do I only do it part of the time?

I’ll tell you why, but first there’s more…

That same friend who sent the text earlier came back with this song. These words in the song made my heart go pitter-patter:

“I have this confidence because I’ve seen the faithfulness of God.”

Soon after hearing the first words, even more lyrics started standing out:

When I am in the fire, I will not feel the flame.
(I just read Daniel 3 this morning. Coincidence? Not with God!)
I’ll stand before the giant, declaring victory.
My God will make a way so I am not afraid.”
Not Afraid | Jesus Culture

When God starts to use me, the enemy starts to pick at me. He knows where to start and even goes so far as to attack the areas that hurt the worst. My heart goes out to those who don’t know God because I don’t know how they’ll ever find their way out of the darkness they experience. God is my way out: Every. Single. Time. He is faithful and I should be too. My flesh will struggle but even then, He is faithful. I will doubt my own abilities but mustn’t ever doubt what God can do through me or what I can do with Him.

That song I mentioned earlier, Confidence, says this:

“‘Broken people are exactly who you use.”

Confidence | Sanctus Real

I identify with that sentence. God uses us all, but broken people have the opportunity to make such a big impact because they have come out of the storm, most often stronger and with more confidence. Us broken people need to be ready to help others who need someone who understands!

After the overwhelming sense of God’s presence subsided and I went on with my day, I hopped on the elliptical, put my headphones back in and flipped on a sermon that I needed to finish. Just minutes to finishing, I had to press pause to really grasp what he said:

“The reason you don’t feel anything is because I want to set you free from the need to feel it to do it. I don’t need you to feel, I need you to [insert your own word here]. I want you to depend on the power of my presence.”


Steven Furtick | The Power of Provision

Que the tears. I screamed THIS IS FOR ME! so loudly that my dog came downstairs to see if everything was okay. It was at that moment that I began to pray out loud, declaring victory over the enemy who is picking at me and thanking God for His faithfulness. I may not know what to do in every situation or have every answer I need but God does. In order to walk in confidence and find that JOY I so desperately want, all I have to do is seek Him first.

Following God doesn’t mean that the road will be easy [just look at David’s life] but it can be without fear. God has gone before. He knows what’s going to happen next regardless of whether or not you choose His way or your own. And He will be there, no matter what. There are consequences for choosing our way over His but we can rest in the fact that He will never leave us or forsake us. Whatever it is that you are having a hard time letting go of or trusting God with, now is the time to give it to Him fully. If it’s your life, then open your arms and tell Him,

Father, this life is Yours. Use me as you wish. Help me to follow You. May the desires of my heart mirror Your dreams for my life. Direct my steps. Help me to hear you more. Speak often and in a way that helps me know it’s You. I love you.

In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen

I’m praying for you today. May God overwhelm you with His presence.

~Amy 🙂

Reference: Worshiping With Questions | Our Daily Bread

For the Encourager and the Future Encourager

I woke up with a word on my mind — encourage. But that was quickly followed up with this thought, “What if the encourager needs encouragement?” I know I’ve written about this before but sometimes it’s good to have a reminder. You see, some of us are born encouragers, others have it in them but tend to be receivers of encouragement much moreso than givers. Believe me, that’s okay; I’m not here to condemn. However, it’s important to do two things:
 
1. If you are an encourager, it’s important to recognize that you need encouragement, even before the times get tough.
 
2. Really assess, if you’re on the receiving end, how often you share that same encouragement with others. You can’t continue to receive but never give that same back to others.
 
The Bible calls us to be encouragers — each and every one of us. I guarantee that those who lend themselves to help, to encourage, are not going to be the first to come to you when they need a word of encouragement themselves. That’s where we must learn to reach out with a word, a text, a call, even a prayer for those we may not know need it most.
 
This morning I want to offer two different words of encouragement; one for the encourager and the second for those who want/need to learn how to be an encourager more. May this be just what YOU need today! Love you all <3
 
To those who want to be a better encourager:
 
You will notice when someone needs encouragement because they may tell you something is wrong, you may know they’re going through something difficult or they might wear their difficulties on their entire being and, without even having to tell you something is wrong, you just know it. What about those who share a smile despite feeling broken inside or in need of the word they just gave to someone else a few moments ago? You may not recognize those as needs but they might even prove to be a bigger need that those who have an obvious “problem”. You see, encouragers who get that much needed encouragement BEFORE it becomes a problem are going to be even better at encouraging those around them. Simply knowing an encourager and offer a card, a text, a hug every now and then might just save them from going over the edge when their weak moments arise.
 
Here’s something I read this morning that might help:
 
“Do you know someone who is always helping others or doing the tasks no one else really wants to do? Maybe you shouldn’t wait until they “need” help or ask for it –maybe you should just offer to do something nice for them. They may be a little resistant at first, but don’t give up. Be there for them. Encouragers need encouragement and helpers need help sometimes. And it’s okay.”
 
To the Encouragers:
 
First of all, know it’s okay to need some encouragement from time-to-time. It doesn’t matter if it’s during the obvious difficulties or on some random Monday when you’re feeling less than appreciated. Either way, needing encouragement isn’t something you should feel ashamed of. We need to feel good and sometimes, we just aren’t feeling it. One of the most important things I’ve had to learn is that most of the time, on those days when it’s a little less obvious to others, I’m going to either need to reach out to a friend or find encouragement on my own. Pride can keep an encourager from getting the encouragement they need by standing in the way of what God might answer in His Word. It also might keep them from a good word from a friend who would be there if they just knew we needed it. Encouragers might think, “Why is no one here when I need them?” When in all actuality, the question should be, “How could someone help you if they knew you needed them?”
 
I have realized over the years that being an encourager is part of my nature. I may not be an encourager to everyone in need but certainly, when God puts it on my heart, I reach out to those who seem to need it and sometimes when God instructs me to, even if I don’t know why. It’s important to me that abiding in Him, being obedient to those things He puts on my heart will bring fruit that I may never see but is so important. It’s the kind of “help” that we give not ever seeing the outcome. Being a good encourager is just that — lending a hand, an ear, a word without expecting one in return, knowing you may not see the fruit of your labor. But what about those days when we wish we were on the receiving end? The more you give, the more you encourage, the harder it can be on those days when all you need is a word of encouragement and no one is to be found. Encouragers aren’t one to reach out and ask for something, nor are they going to call you to say, “Can you tell me something good about me today?” Honestly, some days, that’s all an encourager needs — someone to tell them that they’re doing a good job, that their good deeds are noticed or that they are simply loved for who they are inside.
 
Encouragers, you need to understand that people aren’t going to recognize when you need a boost. Some people wear their heart on their sleeve as in they share every problem or know how to ask for prayer or help when they need it but others wear their heart on their sleeve in such a manner that people just know they have a big heart, never realizing that heart might be breaking ever-so-slightly. So if this encourager is you, you have to learn to ask for prayer but also know to go to God when you’re feeling a little lonely.
 
Here’s a good word from someone who was used to being the encourager that I found this morning:
 
“I imagine that if you are one who helps, it’s hard to switch roles and be on the receiving end. I recently had that experience. I’m used to being on the helping side, not the receiving, yet a situation arose that caused me to need a little help. And boy was it hard to accept.
 
It’s not because I think I’m “too good” to need help – in whatever form that help takes. It’s because I want to give. I found myself stressing out about being a burden or bothering other people, but that’s when the thought occurred to me: when I know someone else needs help, I never feel they’re a burden or a bother. So why would I think others would feel that way about me?”
 
Another blog I read speaks to reaching out to God:
 
“But the best encouragement comes in the form of truth – the Word of God. We desperately need God’s truth. When we feel like we can’t go on any more and life is too difficult, God comforts us with the Holy Spirit, who is our helper, counselor and our encourager.
 
God also provides us with encouragement in the context of meaningful relationships. God uses regular people like you and me to be agents of encouragement. He comforts us through other people who are willing to come along side us and encourage when we’re weak.”
 
Whether you’re an encourager or one who is learning to be one, God has called us all to the same task. That task is to love and part of that task requires learning to encourage one another.
 
“I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.” –Jesus (John 13:34-35)
 
Be conscious that if you give, you take the time you need to seek encouragement. And if you receive, be sure you always take time to give it back.

Finding Peace In A Crazy World: Part II

20 days. Nearly three weeks ago, I wrote part one.  It started like this:

It never fails. The day you want to start something, the enemy comes to distract you.  Whether he succeeds or not really lies with you but in those moments, we feel that he has total power.  The title Finding Peace In A Crazy World is about slaying the demons that demand our attention and focus when it should be elsewhere.

Now I’ll remind you that it has been 20 days since I wrote that post.  Talk about being distracted.  My intention was to write the rest the following day…then the following…then the following.  I am now at a friend’s house who is also a writer.  Although our topics are often very different, we both understand how important it is to set the tone of your writing space, be it at home, in a coffee shop, or at a friend’s house.  There might be certain music playing on the surround sound or in your headphones, oils diffusing or candles burning, comfy clothes and maybe even a blanket.  You might have your favorite beverage or a simple cup of coffee to give you a little energy.  When you finally get your environment conducive to a good writing session, it never fails…something distracts you.

Thinking of all the things that have occurred over the past few weeks has me wondering if I just need to reread my own words.  In all honesty, sometimes what we write can be as much if not more for ourselves.  Let’s face it, distraction has become something we expect but never prepare for.  When I consider all that I could have written in the past few weeks, I feel bad that I have not made more of an effort to refine a gift God has given me.  Do you ever feel that way? That you’ve put something so far behind on the back burner you have to literally turn yourself upside-down to get things right-side-up again.  I’ve put so much time between part one that I am having to go back to revisit what I wrote because I can’t even remember anymore.  It was good but I needed to read it myself!

So here I sit, at my friends with my headphones in, cup of tea on the table, comfy clothes and blanket atop her couch.  The next words that come out of the mouth of the singer playing in my ears are, “I am guilty.”

That’s exactly how I’m feeling right now.

My word of 2018 is INTENTIONAL yet I can honestly say I’ve only been intentional at about 20% of things that both need and deserve my all.  This thing called life is hard but it isn’t impossible.  How can it be that we have something on our minds to do then the next minute our minds are nowhere near where they started or where they should be? It can be because we allow it to happen.

I said in Part One that, “You CAN find peace – BUT it won’t come easy.  It will require some thought, action and quite possibly, behavioral change.”

For so long we have been allowing circumstances outside of our control, control us.  Instead of pushing through to make things happen, we have so easily caved into our feelings in a situation that we have no control over.

Let me remind you of something else I wrote previously…You aren’t failing when you have a bad day.  You aren’t failing when you have to fake your smile or fight past feelings causing you to struggle. You aren’t failing when you realize you really need to think about the reasons you should be happy.  You’re just at a point when the crazy world is starting to get to you.

Here’s what I realized since writing that…we’re letting it.  We are letting this crazy world and the people in our lives affect how we feel, how we act and ultimately, if we are following along the path leading to our destiny.

So now it’s time for the meat and potatoes; the main dish for which this all has been written to say…

Finding Peace In A Crazy World isn’t too far-fetched.  It IS achievable, but it will take our ATTENTION just as much as it will take INTENTION. There are some practical steps you will have to take but if you do them, even just some of them, I guarantee you will be better equipped to handle the crazy that I guarantee will try to take your day away – again.

When I was in the shower this morning, I was praying.  I’m a random prayer.  Sometimes it’s in the morning when I’m reading, just to myself. Other times it’s out loud when I’m on the elliptical.  And sometimes, well, sometimes it’s when I’m in the shower!  I was praying about our team that is currently in Brazil who we have absolutely no contact with.  One of those team members is my husband, who I am thankful will be home in four more sleeps.  I adopted this phrase from the very friend who sits across the living room from me.  It’s something she says with her daughters when talking about how much longer it will be until their dad comes home who, incidentally is on the same mission trip as my husband.  Thinking about how many “sleeps” is a lot easier than trying to figure out if today counts as a day and how about the day we see them?  Sleeps makes sense.  It’s tangible and cannot be argued.  So now that I’ve explained the four sleeps I have left until he’s home, I can now fill you in a little more on my prayers.  They were about keeping them safe, healthy and happy.  While I know they will be leaving a lasting impact on the people in the villages of the Amazon, I pray that God’s impact on their lives is equally as lasting.  I prayed that the things they are getting from God are moving them in such a way that it will be life-changing, in a good way but a lasting way – that they are able to keep feeling the way they’re feeling and doing as God has called them to do, even once they’re home.  Not only that, but I also pray that the things that God is doing in my life while he’s gone will last as well.  My feelings are different when he’s not here.  I see ways that I can be a helper more to him.  I realize how much he does and how much more I can do.  And so begin the thoughts…thoughts of the things I need to do, how I need to purposely set aside time to do things that will help me to be a better wife and mother, how I need to step up my game and show him even more than ever, how much I appreciate just who he is and how much of an impact he makes on our entire household.  Those thoughts eventually led back to prayers for the team and others who are there.  Praying for some individuals I began thinking about some things that I knew had been said to those very people I was praying for; things that are hurtful and were said shortly before they left.  Then my mind began to start wandering in a different direction; in a direction that made me hopeful that they are not letting these words resonate.  I also thought about the people who said those hurtful words who were in no place to put down a friend.  While these individuals struggle in the same area, I find it hard to take that one feels the need to put down rather than bring up this friend.  Who are they to say something like this when they know it’s the last thing that would help them?  And the cycle stops there.  God spoke very loudly.

I know I’ve said this before but I should reiterate to those of you who are new to reading my posts…I don’t audibly here the voice of God.  It might frighten me a bit if I did!  No, God speaks to me through words He puts on my heart that I then think.  Sometimes they stop me dead in my tracks like these 16 words did:

I am not going to let the things people say dictate the thoughts that I think.

In this situation, I was allowing words someone else had said to another take over my prayers.  If I can allow someone else’s words to someone else affect me in such a way, what was I doing in the situations when someone said something directly to me?  Ouch!  That’s where those 20 days went!

So there you have it folks, Lesson #1 in how to find peace in a crazy world is to not let the things people say dictate the thoughts that I think.  We hear it often and I say it often – We cannot control the thoughts that creep into our minds but we can control what stays there.  We have to do better with keeping ourselves on topic.  If the thoughts creep in, push them out.  Pray if you have to.  I have to remember that I am the only one who can keep me focused.  I may not be responsible for some of the distractions but I am solely responsible for allowing those distractions to take my focus.  What about the distractions that we cause? That’s Lesson #2…

We have to disconnect from the things that cause us to disconnect.  You know what those things are.  They’re social media, the news, anything with connectivity that you initiate.  That’s right, YOU have chosen this distraction so there’s no one else to blame for what follows but you.  Here’s what happens…you connect for a quick second but are immediately brought to something, then to another, and another until you forget how you got there in the first place.  These things that help us connect with some people or things cause us to disconnect from other [more important] things.  I’m going to repeat that again…The very things that help us connect are the same things that cause us to disconnect.  What you do with those few brief moments can have a substantial effect on the rest of your afternoon and sometimes even your relationships. Be careful.

Lesson #3: If you want to be better at something you have to do it.  You’re not going to get better at push-ups by doing crunches.  So how do you expect to be a wife if you’re focusing on being a better mother? How are you going to be a better husband if you’re focusing on being better at your job? How are you going to learn to focus more when you just created more distractions in your life? The cycle continues until you decide that what you want and need to get better at is going to require some work.  How does that relate to finding peace you ask?  It has everything to do with finding peace because of one, very important reason.  If we are not the best we can be, or at least striving to be the best we can be, in every role we have in our lives we will never FEEL that comfort and peace in those roles.  If you’re not putting your all in and making changes that will help you to be successful in those roles, you’re never going to be working at your full potential.  There’s no peace at putting half your effort into anything.  And it isn’t just about the roles we have either.  If you want to get stronger, you will not get there just walking – you’ll need to lift weights! If you want to be closer to God, you’re going to have to read His Word, praying will only do it for so long.

That brings me to Lesson #4: New level, new devil.  Ouch! You didn’t know I was going there did you? It doesn’t matter if you’re a Christian, simply spiritual or confidently confused, once you take a step in the right direction and start making progress, it is inevitable that things are going to come into your life to distract you, to take your focus, to throw you off course.  We talk about this often in church in regards to people’s relationship with Christ.  The closer you get to Him, the better you get at your walk, the harder things are going to get.  The enemy is out to steal, kill and destroy and he doesn’t want you to succeed.  You think you’re going to play hardball and outsmart him, he’ll find another way in, typically through your mind because that’s where he gets us the quickest and the deepest.  The only advice I can give you about this is know this – new level, new devil – and then when something happens, simply acknowledge that’s what it is instead of giving in to the feelings that you instinctively have along with it.  Make your actions support your direction and your goals, showing that enemy that he’ll just have to try again later because he won’t be getting you this time!

Lesson #5 You’re not of this world.  I believe we’re beings created for a purpose only we can fulfill.  Regardless of how good, bad or indifferent you are, I know that God created you for a reason even if your choices don’t always or have never reflected it.  He gave us free will so you can choose what you do, how you act and react, but just know you are made with love for love.  It’s simple.  Do it, give it, have it – LOVE. You can’t let the things of this world have such an impact on you.  If you are meant to make a difference in a situation then do it, but don’t let that situation have you.  It’s important to know that our actions must reflect who we are meant to be, not how we’re feeling about things going on around us.

Although most of those lessons were pretty deep, I have some easier, more practical ways to find peace in a crazy world.  If all else fails or you are simply lacking time and can’t get out of your own thoughts, try doing any or all of these things and tell me that you don’t feel better!

  1. Hold a baby. This may not work for everyone and it will be best with a calm, maybe even sleeping baby!
  2. Get puppy kisses. You may not be a dog lover, but I’m telling you if you sit down on the ground and let a puppy lick your face, you WILL SMILE!!
  3. Go for a walk. Sometimes this is even good if it’s raining! But for goodness sakes, if you’re going for a walk, PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY!!
  4. Listen to music. This is a little tricky though.  You can’t turn on angry music and expect to feel like looking at sunshine and rainbows.  Let’s be honest, it’s going to take something a little different than that. Whether you believe me or not, you are affected by what you listen to and what you watch.  Try listening to only Christian music for a little while (days) and tell me that something doesn’t feel different.  There’s some good Christian music out there too so don’t think it has to be slow or boring! Try Crowder, Third Day or Need to Breathe.  For me, sometimes I need some 80s-90s country music.  Other times, I need the old KEZK favorites that I listen to as a teenager to fall asleep. Some days, a little Michael Jackson has just the right touch.  Experiment.  Find something and stick with it for a bit.
  5. Get fresh air. How about just sitting outside for a bit? Early morning, late night or mid-day, doesn’t matter.
  6. Disconnect. Seriously, do it. I don’t need to say anything else about this.
  7. Exercise. Endorphins have such a positive effect on your body both inside and out. 
  8. Eat better. What you put in your body effects more than your shape.  It can affect your mood, your health and so many things that you could literally become a different person if you just bit the bullet and put the right foods into your body!

There are so many other things that I could tell you to help you find PEACE in this crazy world but the best advice is to simply not let this world have you.  Here are a few final words of advice…

  • Be passionate about something but don’t let it dictate your every move.
  • Be careful how much effort you put into things that aren’t going to help you to be a better you.
  • And for goodness sake, stop letting things that don’t matter impact you.

Read Finding Peace in a Crazy World: Part I

Finding Peace In A Crazy World

It never fails.  The day you want to start something, the enemy comes to distract you.  Whether he succeeds or not really lies with you but in those moments, we feel that he has total power.  The title Finding Peace In A Crazy World is about slaying the demons that demand our attention and focus when it should be elsewhere.

Let’s face it — we live in a crazy world where the unexplainable, unimaginable happens EVERY SINGLE DAY.  What can we possibly do to get through the days when the crazy seems just a little over the top?  Well I’m going to tell you but FIRST, I have to share a little bit about what I heard on the radio this morning.

I had decided (after procrastinating the past few days) that today would be the day I wrote this blog entry.  After doing a poll on social media on the title that people wanted to read most, it was clear that most people are looking for peace in this crazy world of ours.  I started with my routine — got my coffee, warm compress for my dog (he has back issues), journal entry, bible reading, morning devotional and that’s where it stopped so that I could start writing.  I had put on my headphones this morning so I could really concentrate and because I don’t pay for a streaming service, I have to listen to an occasional news story or commercial.  One, in particular, stood out to me today.  It was about a new class* offered at Yale University on finding happiness.  Who would have ever thought that people would need to be taught how to be happy!?!?

I’m not sure if there’s been a study done or not but I’d venture to say that our society as a whole has become increasingly unhappy for a number of reasons.  Distractions take us away from the natural ways we once found to release stress and we find ourselves encapsulated within a virtual world where we can hide from just about everything.  But at what point do people face reality again?

In the 316 years of Yale University, this has quickly become the most popular class with nearly 1/4 of all undergraduates currently enrolled.  The class, entitled Psychology and the Good Life, “tries to teach students to lead a happier, more satisfying life in two-weekly lectures.”  With close to 1200 students, the 42-year old teacher [Laurie Santos] has quite the task ahead of her.  Enrollment in a class like this at a school like Yale only reinforces my assumption that we aren’t happy.

Students are asked to do things like sleep 8 hours each day and write 5 things they are grateful for, just as a start.  I think it’s funny how the ideas I was going to share about how you can find peace in this crazy world are along the same lines as the principles Santos is teaching in her class.   In 2006, Harvard offered a similar class with attendance around 900.  The difference in the classes — this class incorporates behavorial change.

I think that’s where I’ll start my blog…

Finding Peace In A Crazy World isn’t something you think about often.  I mean the saying goes, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right?  I think we often get caught up in the crazy and assume we just have to stay there.  What if I told you that you don’t have to?  That amidst the daily struggles, you CAN find peace — BUT it won’t come easy.  It will require some thought, action and quite possibly, behavioral change.

You can be in the best mood, having a great day and then BAM!  Someone poops in your Cheerios! Don’t like that analogy?
Okay, so say a bird poops on your head…
You leave your wallet at home, you need gas and you’re already late.
You have somewhere to be and all the forces of the world seem to be keeping you from getting there.  It doesn’t matter whether you have prepared dinner in advance, packed the car ahead of time and stayed on track ALL DAY.  Up until the last minute when the craziness began, you were going to be one time.

What about the times when it isn’t about time at all?  Maybe you set aside a day, or just a few hours, to yourself.  You strategically planned a certain amount of time where you could do something that would help you recover from the daily grind or maybe you carved out just enough time to do nothing at all.  No one is going to be home so it will be perfect, right?  Then a threatening snow storm that we all know will end up being 1/2″ of wetness cancels the meeting your spouse was going to and events the kids were to be at this evening.  Suddenly what was going to be your time has turned into a mad dash to the bath tub where you blow out the candles, let out the water and just get into bed.  I mean, your relaxation is over now anyway — or is it?

Here’s where we go wrong folks — we allow circumstances outside of our control, control us.  We fall into the trap that the enemy has set to take the very thing that will help us get back on our feet.  Our time to ourselves, that schedule we hold so dear, those things we’ve looked forward to.  Instead of pushing through to make those things happen, we so easily cave into the feelings we took on in the middle of a stupid mishap of things that we have no control over.

What if when those things happen we start to think of a 5-letter word that will help us keep our sanity and incidentally on the right path?

PEACE

Think it’s possible?  It is!  You just may have to work for it…

You’ve got the music going, the day is going great and your mind, well it’s in a really good spot.  Your heart is full because life is just spectacular or maybe you’re simply feeling an abundance of gratitude despite any minor complications.

The news comes on and shows a situation that takes your attention.  What is going on in this world.  You turn to social media to see if you can find out more information or even better — what do your friends think about it?  When you get there, you’re caught in the trap.  Story after story, post after post, thought after thought.  You’re caught and find yourself feeling differently than you did before.  You start to take on the feelings of those you’re following and stories start affecting you that you would have never known about had it not been for the news.

Let’s stay on the topic of social media for a second.  It’s a great tool to connect and get information out, I won’t say otherwise.  But for those who are so easily distracted, who take on the emotions of others, who tend to care a little too much what other people are doing, well it can be a trap that you almost can’t get out of.  I talked to youth about this recently at a weekend retreat we went on.  Whether you’re 16 or 36, people easily find themselves feeling discouraged when looking at social media for one simple reason — they’re not doing what everyone else is doing.  It’s so easy to get caught up in wishing we were doing what someone else was doing, that we were invited somewhere that our friends went, that we had little baby or a new puppy, or that we were able to go on a vacation with our spouse.  What happens when we get caught in someone else’s life is that we forget about our own.  We fail to see the beautiful things going on in our own life and start wishing we were living someone else’s.  It’s not intentional so if this is you, don’t feel bad.  I can’t say that this personally describes me but on occasion, it can if I let it.  We have to be careful with how much we believe about what we see.  For the most part, people aren’t going to post a photo of the argument they got in right after they posted that perfect selfie on the beach.  Nope.  And they’re not going to show you the closet floor full of clothes that they had to try on for hours to look as good as they do in that new outfit they had to put on the credit card for that special occasion — that outfit that they couldn’t afford and will probably never wear again.  That friend won’t tell you how much they cried before actually going out the door to that party or that they don’t really belong in that crowd of people — that they’re only going so they don’t have to be alone.  That church friend who seems to know and be loved by everyone, they’re not going to share that they struggle every day to keep their focus, that they have to pray to pray and IT. IS. HARD. on most days to be an encourager.

People aren’t going to put all of those things on social media, they’re going to put what looks best…what looks like they are living their best life.  The problem with that is it isn’t life.  THAT isn’t life.  Life is full of good days, bad days, tragedies and triumphs.  There is not one person in this world that has it all together.  If they try to tell you they do, they’re probably one who has a messy closet they go cry in on a daily basis.

Can I tell you something?  You aren’t failing when you have a bad day.  you aren’t failing when you have to fake your smile or fight past feelings causing you to struggle.  You aren’t failing when you realize you really need to think about the reasons you should be happy.  You’re just at a point when the crazy world is starting to get to you.

Let this be the start of something.  I PROMISE that I will post Part 2 of Finding Peace In A Crazy World but first, you have to admit that it’s possible.  Stay tuned…

*Read the full story here.

Read Finding Peace in a Crazy World: Part II

Two Words

I’ve really wanted to share about my experience this past weekend at Winter (youth) Retreat but the words weren’t there. Then one morning a few days ago, I woke up very early with two words on my mind – STOREHOUSE and WHEELHOUSE. It was probably only about 2a and I wasn’t prepared to wake up so I said a little prayer that I would remember them again when I woke up for the day in a couple hours. I did, and decided I needed to write them down before I forgot them. I’m not sure where they came from but I’ve been thinking about them ever since.
 
When I first thought of STOREHOUSE, I was immediately given the thought of having something to use later when we need it. I looked up the definition and one stood out:
 
STOREHOUSE: a large supply of something
 
I even googled STOREHOUSE in the bible to see what came up. What I found was that it is interchangeably used with the word TREASURES, most specifically, God’s treasures. Without going much deeper, I decided to rest on it…knowing good and well the time would come when I would feel an urgency to write about it.
 
The whole time, I thought WHEELHOUSE was just an overthought in my head that came from hearing the first one so I just brushed it off. Until this morning, that is.
 
As I finished my devotions, I got on my phone to make a few notes on things I needed to remember to do today and saw those words again. This time, I decided to look up WHEELHOUSE and the definition caught me off guard:
 
WHEELHOUSE: a part of a boat or ship serving as a shelter for the person at the wheel
 
My first thought was, God is MY shelter! This is what He was trying to share with me. But then it all came together. Stick with me for this one friends…
 
Let’s say that WE are the STOREHOUSE. We are God’s treasure, a STOREHOUSE full of HIS words and wisdom; best lived when we are open, when we dig deeper, and when we use the skills He’s given us for good — to bless others.
 
But WE are also the WHEELHOUSE…completely opposite from my initial thought. My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in me, whom I have received from God (Read 2 Corinthians 6:19-20). It is the WHEELHOUSE to protect the person at the wheel — God — who should be at the center of my life, guiding the direction in which I will go.
 
I would have never thought those two words would have actually come together, nor would I have ever guessed how. But it makes sense now. How quickly we come to think something is one way or should be but in fact, it should be another. If I am the STOREHOUSE I should be full of the things that will help me to be a better WHEELHOUSE. The wisdom God gives me to get through situations is how I protect His being at the wheel, making sure HE stays there and that I don’t take over. You see, often times we get caught up with trying to fix a situation on our own but He is the one who should be in control. We need to read His Word, go deeper to find meanings, take those pieces of wisdom He gives us to heart so that, when we need them, the answers will be right there.
 
In order to be the best at who GOD, not this world, has called us to be, we have to make sure that our STOREHOUSE remains full and that the WHEELHOUSE is in working order. Aligning ourselves with God’s vision for our lives, not someone else’s. Too often people look at social media and, unknowingly, are being fed lies that they will not know how to fight off on their own. They start to think about someone else’s vision as their own, wish they had what one had or did what someone else did. God wants you to be YOU and in order to do that, you have to put your focus on HIM not those around you. If you want to live the life you were called to live you simply have to get your eyes off of everyone else’s calling and back on your own. Direction will come when the time is right. It may not be as quickly as you would hope or in the manner in which you requested it, but keep on pursuing and He’ll keep on answering — in HIS time.
 
Not sure who this was for today, but if it’s you, I’ll be praying 

*Winter Retreat is a weekend getaway where students and leaders come to get closer to God and make lasting connections with one another.

Morning Journal Entry: Day 24

I keep waiting for this feeling to come over me but God gave me a gentle reminder just now that faith isn’t a feeling. I think sometimes I get caught up in remembering the moments when I did “feel” something. They’re so powerful that they have the potential to carry me through to the next BIG THING -or- they can fizzle just as quickly as they came.

I’m tired of waiting for a feeling, for hoping something or someOne will pick me up when I’m struggling and completely worn out from not fighting the battles in my head hard enough. You see, when I fight to stay focused, to not let negative thoughts stay in my head, to be who God has called me to be, those “feelings” aren’t far behind. The saying goes, “Fake it ’til you make it” but what if we were to FIGHT until we make it? What if, instead of giving up when we’re tired and things aren’t easy, we get up and start fighting?

Things are coming from every angle and just when you feel like you’re finally breaking through, the enemy comes at you again. he knows your weaknesses, where you struggle and exactly when you’re at your breaking point. This is when you realize there’s no rest for the weary. If you give up now, what was the fight even for?

I want to be in the muck because that’s where people are hurting but I can only survive there if I have the STRENGTH to. Not strength that’s my own, but the God given, Holy Spirit driven, never going to give up kinda STRENGTH. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I’m giving it to God today so He can use me His way. I’m not waiting on a feeling, I’m fighting for one and along the way, I’ll be creating one.

I know I’m not the only one who thinks this way, feels this way. If this is you today, time to put on those big girl/boy pants, a pair of boxing gloves and fight the enemy who’s working hard to get in your corner. You have too much up ahead to give up now. It won’t be easy and it’s going to take work but trust me, it’ll be worth all the effort you’re putting in.

Why Are We Never Happy?

It’s a Monday, we wish it were Friday.
It’s summer, we wish it were fall.
It’s chilly, we wish it were warmer.
It’s rainy, we wish it were sunny.
It seems as though, no matter what the situation, we always have something to complain about.

If our only hope is for the perfect amount of sun at just the right temperature on our favorite day of the week, what are we doing with the rest?

Life’s too short for a “throwaway” day.
There will never be enough hours to get it all done.
You’ll always have “something come up”.

When you slip and fall, what matters is that you get back up.
When you try and fail, you just have to try again.
When you wake up grumpy, you just have to surround yourself with things that will bring YOU back again.

If you’re always waiting for someone to cheer you up then you’ll always feel like someone is letting you down.

Today, it’s about you. It’s about YOUR choices. It’s about sacrifices, decisions, and movement. CHOOSE to be someone who doesn’t use the word “busy” or “tired” to answer the question, “How are you doing?” Because in all honesty, we’re all tired and busy. We all have good days mixed with the bad. There will always be circumstances beyond our control but we will always, always, always have the chance to choose our outlook on them. Our responses, our demeanor, our actions are a direct reflection of our heart.

Be sure your head knows how big your heart is and that your heart knows how powerful your mind can be. Learn to balance the two and live in the moment. Be thankful. Be joyful. Be sentimental. Be YOU.

This mismotch (I just made that up) of words is brought to you today by someone who isn’t perfect. Who experiences some of these same feelings. Whose mind can be all over the place but stationary at the same time. I want to show more appreciation, I want to love bigger, I want my actions to match my heart but sometimes, sometimes I just want to feel less, think less and let go. I’m a work in progress and I’m sure you are too.

#choosehappy